By Jillian Waterhouse, Staff Writer—
At noon on Oct. 30, Tennesseans could be found doing the cupid shuffle all across the state. The socially distanced state-wide dance party was the result of a challenge called “Dance Across Tennessee,” which was issued by the Tennessee Department of Health.
The challenge, which aimed to inspire healthy daily physical activity among children, was hosted over social media. Using the hashtag #TNchildhealthmonth2020 on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, participants were able to join and dance together from areas all over the state.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of social media to bring people together is not at all uncommon in the year 2020. In an online study conducted in May, Ipsos, a global market research specialist, found that 74% of young adults have experienced an increased use of video chat platforms following the onset of the pandemic.
As people have become more active online, they have also become much less active physically. The University of California San Francisco completed a research study in July which reported that physical activity dropped worldwide during the 2020 spread of COVID-19. Within 15 days from the beginning of national lockdown, step counts tallied by the smartphone app Argus decreased by 15% across the United States.
More people are active online now for longer periods of time than ever before. The Tennessee Department of Health utilized this increased presence as a way to bring their followers closer together for a fun activity during a year of high stress.
Participants of the challenge posted videos of their group members cupid shuffling synchronously at noon on Oct. 30. Many of the dancers were students and teachers at Tennessee elementary schools, who were able to increase their physical activity throughout the day thanks to the challenge.
Organizations such as Working for a Healthier Tennessee took part in the festivities and posted their own videos inspiring residents across the state to participate in the challenge and raise awareness for childhood wellness. Other groups from the school districts of Bradley county, Fayette county, and Cleveland, Tennessee made sure to post their own videos, as well.
As temperatures continue to drop and people find themselves at home or inside more often, opportunities such as Dance Across Tennessee become increasingly important for sustaining positivity during a time which has taken its toll on physical and mental health. While social distancing remains necessary as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, Tennesseeans must find new ways to connect and engage with each other safely.